So why are we moving to Portugal?

Since announcing my friend Clare coming on board to help with Parent Tribe I haven’t written for a while as things have been a bit full on! As I mentioned in the previous post we as a family, dog and all, are moving to Portugal – initially for a 6 month trial but hopefully longer term to follow our dream of a low-impact lifestyle, to be outdoors more and to be together more as a family.

So you may be thinking why Portugal – well there are a few reasons.

The first is that Garf and I have always wanted to travel or live abroad and truthfully about 10 years ago when young and free in our early twenties we quit the rat race in London to move home to The Lakes, to save to go travelling together. And then guess what – we got swept along with normal life and bought a house, got married and 5 weeks after the wedding found out we were 5 weeks pregnant with Mr J. Yep a lovely wedding surprise!

The other reason for me is my upbringing, for two reasons. Firstly I lived in a converted barn surrounded by fields in a village in the Lakes. I remember playing outside all the time in the garden or stream by my house and also biking around the village with my friends. I just really want that outdoors freedom for my kids too and lets face it – it just isn’t the same here these days.

The other reason from my upbringing is my family. My mum is one of 8 and my granddad was from Argentina. My mum was brought up here in the UK but at 16 was moved back to Argentina with her parents, then escaped the Fauklands war, came back married my dad and they went back and lived there for a few years with him too. They would often talk about their time living in Argentina with me and I guess it got engrained into me and I always wanted to do something similar. Also 3 of my mums 8 siblings live abroad in New Zealand and Argentina and are all pretty close so I feel like living abroad is a normal and exciting thing to do. And I guess the main thing is I know it’s not too hard to keep in touch and visit people and that when you see family or friends again you can always pick up where you left.

So – after finding out we were having our first baby we still planned to move abroad somewhere so we had various trips or avenues we explored. We visited my family in NZ for our honeymoon during my pregnancy, went to an Austrailian Expo in Manchester when J was 6 months old and have always talked and researched into Costa Rica and visiting family in Argentina.

Then there was our almost move to Australia which is documented on Parent Tribe too. Garf was fed up with his job at the time and applied to a few brewery jobs around the world (he was a brewer at the time). Soon after he had an interview, and then another and got a job in Brisbane. To be honest I have never fancied Australia or NZ for various reasons but I was happy for him and went along with the plans. I was pregnant at the time though and was a little anxious about moving to the other side of the world 6 weeks after the baby was born. I tried to stay positive and focus on the birth but once our lovely little F came along I majorly freaked out and was on the verge of breakdown, so I pulled out at the last minute. This hit us both hard and was a V difficult time for a few months and to cut a long story short we ended up living and working for Garfs family in Ambleside, which is in the heart of The Lake District.

The past two and a half years has actually been a blessing as Garf’s wonderful and hospitable family have given him a job and us our own living accommodation, giving us the chance to be together as a family more, explore other options in Europe , save some money and for me to build my design business up. We have also met some really lovely inspiring people and I truly believe now things happen for a reason and we were meant to be here in Ambleside as it has made us both grown in ways we couldn’t imagine.

So back to Portugal – why there? Well to be honest it has just come out of the blue for us too! We love Spain and since not going to Aus have been to Barcelona and the surrounding area twice to visit friends and do a workaway (which I wrote about in issue 6). We love Barcelona and if we didn’t have kids we would live there but, as was one of the issues with moving to Brisbane, it’s a city and we don’t want to live in a city with our kids. We’ve always talked of being somewhere more rural and for me, after reading a book called Homegrown about a family doing unschooling on a farm in America, I just have had a vision of living somewhere with land, growing our own, getting the boys involved in chores on the land and letting them run free and explore.

I think this vision is what has lead me and motivated me and when I decided to work more this year and put J in school part time (as we had planned on homeschooling) and for little F be with daddy two days and to go to a friend who is a childminder one morning a week. My vision was that they would only need to do this for this school year and then we could move on and they could have the lifestyle I dreamed of for them, at home, surrounded by nature and doing their own thing as much as possible.

And then out of the blue I got an email from Clare Monson in Portugal saying she would like to write for Parent Tribe. I explained I was taking a break from the magazine and the blog was still going and that she was welcome to write for that. We then continued to send emails and I mentioned we would like an opportunity to live and work abroad and she told me all about her amazing low-impact project on their quinta (small –holding) in Portugal and next thing I know we had booked a holiday to stay with them and do a workaway for a week!

We visited the Monson family in May and what an inspiring, hard-working, fun, friendly and compassionate family they are. Like us they were sick of the cost of living in the UK and the difficulties you come into when having a young family, with long working hours and childcare and 2 years ago had decided to do something about it. They visited Portugal, bought some cheap land and not long after moved into a tent on their land with their newborn baby and 4 year old. They now have a holiday barn and a 3 bed strawbale house on their land because of all their hard work and determination. But they have no bills – they are completely off-grid!

Whilst there we were so inspired by what they had made for themselves with little money and also met other people over there who had done the same and decided that if that is what we wanted we could do the same. We had so much fun there too! It did rain for the first few days but the torrential rain threw us together in their rustic strawbale home and we all got to know each other and clicked really well. The older boys played non-stop for a week and we helped take care of their younger boy too whilst they got some work done on their tipi and swing bed business. We took turns to cook meals and they were so welcoming we didn’t want to leave!

We returned to the UK unsure of what to do next – we knew we could make the move if we wanted to with the cost of living being so cheap over there but weren’t sure if it was where we wanted to be. I decided that being in the South Lakes and near family was something I enjoyed but I also craved and adventure too. Garf decided he really wanted to move abroad for a bit too and immerse the kids in a different culture and the final decision came after the Brexit result. We thought if we didn’t do it now then in a couple of years it may be harder to move to Europe and if we go now and like it then we can go ahead and apply for residency before the changeover. Plus our kids are 6 and 2 and I think the longer we stay where we are the harder it would be to move them away.

Once we made the decision though it’s been a whirlwind and things have fallen into place one by one. Our friends have found us an amazing quinta with 2 hectares of land and lots of fruit trees in the town near them which we are renting/ house-sitting for someone long-term, Garfs parents have been great and we’ve found someone to take over living in and managing the hotel we live in, we’ve managed to re-negotiate the mortgage on our house we still own in West Cumbria so we aren’t paying as much per month, my business has taken off a bit so we can save money and we have some exciting opportunities to work on when we get to Portugal!

I really feel like we are being pushed along a path and doors are opening all the time. And I now really believe if you have a vision then stick with it, no matter how long it takes, how many years – once it is the right time for you then the universe will support your every move. You just need to keep asking and keep being grateful!

I hope you enjoyed this post – I will be documenting our move to Portugal and adventures when we get there – if you would like to follow it then please sign up to the Parent Tribe news and inspiration below – or follow my random Instagram videos as shown below too!


Portugal Off-grid living adventure here we come….